Anti-Crime Plan

A Personal Note


We need to make the 43rd Ward safer and I am pleased to present my comprehensive plan to do so.  As a crime victim myself, I know that the status quo is simply unacceptable.  

 

Our approach to crime should not start or stop with just making arrests.  Beyond our law enforcement response, we must encourage residents, businesses, schools and the non-profit sector to get proactively involved in public safety. 

 

As we embark on this effort together, we should recognize that our ward has many existing attributes that can help us win the battle against crime.  We have excellent block clubs and neighborhood organizations, talented neighborhood leaders, and a community which stands in strong support of our local police officers. 

 

As Alderman, I would prioritize frequent meetings with residents and police officers to ensure collaboration and progress.  I would prioritize good lighting and unobstructed views which make blocks less attractive to criminals.  We must improve 911 staffing and response rates, facilitate technology that connects residents directly to the police, and hire additional part time staff to ensure that older residents can safely walk in the evening hours.  

 

We can also work to improve community spaces for young people, particularly those who are at-risk.  We can focus holistically on housing, physical and mental health care, job training and employment.   People who are educated, housed, healthy and employed are less likely to turn to crime.  

 

In this plan you will see my specific proposals for reducing crime in the 43rd ward.   I welcome your thoughts, feedback and suggestions!

 

-Rebecca

INTRODUCTION

In survey after survey, Chicago residents have made it clear that they do not feel safe.  Crime is the number one issue facing our city today. While our neighborhoods are strong and resilient, failure to address this ongoing crisis puts all of it at risk.  Violence threatens our ability to move forward as a world-class city.

The issue of crime and policing, in Chicago in particular, has a long and fraught history that continues to this day. And although we might disagree about the extent of the problem, the best solutions for dealing with it, and the funding to put them into action, we can all agree that the status quo is simply inadequate.

My plan to improve public safety in Chicago is focused on four main areas:

  • Combating gun violence – we cannot continue to allow the loss of so many hundreds of lives to gun violence every year
  • Fighting crime citywide – we need to reduce crime of all types, in all our neighborhoods
  • Strengthening our police department – we cannot keep our community safe without real improvements
  • Addressing the root causes of crime – by doing so, we can prevent crime from happening before it starts

The list of challenges is long. We need to redouble efforts to combat gun violence in our city, including by improving the clearance rate for solving homicides and non-fatal shootings; and by expanding on successful gun violence prevention initiatives. We also need to take on other types of crime that affect too many Chicagoans, including domestic violence, hate crimes, scams, and retail and residential theft.

We also need to strengthen our police department – first and foremost, by hiring more officers, and retaining the officers we have. Both community-police relations and police morale continue to be low, impeding our ability to create healthy, safe neighborhoods throughout our city. We need more funding to meet the city’s needs, but we also need improved leadership, from top to bottom.

Finally, we have to stop crime before it starts – by expanding violence intervention programs, investing in our communities and in our people, and addressing the root causes of crime, including poverty, lack of affordable housing, and inadequate access to education and employment.

This is not a simple problem, and there are no simple solutions. This plan is part of the conversation we need to have about how we can finally bend the curve on crime in our city and make some real progress. As your city councilor, public safety will be my number one priority.

–Rebecca Janowitz


Public Safety Plan

COMBAT Gun Violence

          • Improve the clearance rate
          • Enhance gun crime detection and prevention

Fight Crime Citywide

          • Combat crime of all types
          • Respond to crime more quickly and effectively

STRENGTHEN Our Police Department

          • Boost police morale – and officer ranks
          • Improve community-police relations

ADDRESS The Root Causes of Crime

          • Prevent crime before it starts
          • Invest in the community

Combat Gun Violence

Chicago has had among the worse homicide and gun violence clearance rates among cities nationwide for years. From 2007 to 2017, according to an analysis by the Washington Post, just 26% of homicides in the city resulted in an arrest – a figure that ranked Chicago last out of 55 cities. And very few individuals (just 10%) who had carried guns in Chicago said that they thought they would likely be arrested for shooting someone, according to a 2018 survey. With not just some, but most, violent crime going unsolved in our city, it is no surprise that gun violence continue to run rampant—there were more than 800 homicides here in 2021 (the vast majority of which involved guns) and more than 4,000 gunshot victims.

We need to take decisive action today to address the issue, starting with improving our ability to investigate and solve violent crime, particularly gun crime, by hiring more detectives devoted to doing just that. We also need to devote more resources toward solving the issue of gun violence in particular, including by improving our intelligence about the source of guns in our city and doubling down on efforts directly targeting solving and preventing gun crimes.

Improve the Clearance Rate

Hire, promote, and train more detectives

Chicago Police Department has more than 100 vacant detective position, accounting for some 10% of its overall detective unit, which, even if fully staffed, would represent just a fraction of number of detectives that New York City has, despite Chicago suffering from more gun violence and homicide cases. A 2019 report on the Chicago Police Department noted that some 11.4% of NYPD officers were detectives, and 15.4% of LAPD officers were; by comparison, just 8.4% of CPD officers worked as detectives.

Analyses have shown that, despite earlier research to the contrary, the use of post-homicide criminal investigation can “significantly” increase homicide clearance rates and solve more violent crimes. We simply do not have the staffing or the capacity to do so to a sufficient degree.

  • Hire and train new detectives immediately to fill all vacancies
  • Re-train and promote officers currently at CPD to become detective sand help fill vacancies
  • Increase the size of CPD’s detective unit to increase capacity and reduce caseload per detective

Improve investigations of non-fatal shootings, as well as homicides

While the tragedy of hundreds of lives lost annually in Chicago to gun violence cannot be overstated, the devastation and negative effects of all gun violence, including nonfatal shootings, is substantial. Thousands, not hundreds, of Chicagoans suffer directly from gun violence every year; and countless others bear the indirect consequences.

The Government Accountability Office found that, nationally, firearm injuries led to initial hospital costs of over $1 billion annually; readmissions and long-term health issues significantly increase those estimates. A separate study found that nonfatal firearm injuries increased medical costs by 400% among survivors in the first year; and that not only did survivors have a dramatic increase in psychiatric disorders (51%) and substance use disorders (85%), but their family members also saw negative mental health outcomes as well.

The 2019 report on CPD’s homicide investigations process, completed by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), noted that Chicago suffers from more than four times as many nonfatal as fatal shootings.

  • Increase prioritization of investigations of nonfatal shootings, which can contribute to reducing the prevalence of homicides in the future
  • Improve both internal and external coordination of investigations into homicides and nonfatal shootings

Increase investigation transparency and best practices

“Padded clearance stats or stalled court cases do little to build either public confidence or police morale.” That’s according to the Sun-Times, which found in an analysis of police data that half of the murder cases the city touted as solved in 2021 didn’t actually lead to any charges being filed. The method of tracking, and communicating, CPD’s efforts to fight and to solve crime obfuscates the challenges at hand, and risks losing the public’s trust in the department’s work, both where there is room for improvement and where good work is being accomplished.

  • Analyze best practices from other cities and jurisdictions for tracking both crime and criminal investigations
  • Improve internal and external communication to more clearly and transparently reflect work being done and bolster public confidence while showing real progress

Enhance Gun Crime Detection and Prevention

Expand on gun violence task force and intelligence initiatives

Gun violence is our city’s number one problem – and it has been for years. 2021 brought a new level of gun violence in the city not seen in decades, leading the Chicago Police Department to form a new gun violence prevention and investigation team with 50 officers intended to target the flow of illegal guns into the city. As part of the new initiative, CPD is working closely with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

In 2022, CPD was awarded a $700,000 Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC) Integration Initiative grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, in order to enhance the department’s ability “to produce additional investigative leads and better corroborating physical evidence aimed at strengthening crime gun cases for effective prosecution.”

  • Pursue additional opportunities for grants, federal funding, and state and federal partnerships to implement gun intelligence efforts at CPD
  • Monitor progress and efficacy of recent efforts by CPD to work with ATF and BJA
  • Coordinate efforts across government entities as well as nonprofit organizations in Chicago and throughout the state

Stem the flow of guns into Illinois from other states

In 2020, less than half of the guns recovered within Illinois came from within the state, according to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives data; nearly 2,000 weapons, or almost 15% of all firearms, came from neighboring Illinois; and hundreds of others came from Missouri, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and a handful of other mostly Midwestern and Southern states. No matter how tough our gun laws are, the plague of gun violence will continue as long as these weapons continue to flood our city and our state.

This isn’t just a Chicago issue—it’s an Illinois issue and a federal issue as well. But we can do more as a city to advocate for action at the state and federal level; and to partner with interested parties such as the Illinois Attorney General’s Office to fight for meaningful reforms to cut down on illegal gun trafficking.

  • Utilize the newly-launched Crime Gun Connect program, which allows law enforcement agencies across the state to trace guns online
  • Work with other jurisdictions and lawmakers to push for state and federal legislation targeting gun trafficking

Push for greater legal action against private entities and other states for their roles in gun trafficking

Fight Crime Citywide

Though it may be the most destructive and the most challenging, gun violence isn’t the only public safety issue we need to confront as a city. Domestic violence has surged in recent years, affecting thousands of women in all parts of our city; hate crimes have seen a disheartening increase as well, and many expect it to get worse. Meanwhile, “nonviolent” crime such as online and telemarketing scams, “porch pirates,” and organized retail theft – which can turn violent – continue to rob our seniors, our residents, and our businesses of millions of dollars every year.

We simply have to do more to combat all of these types of crime, and to response more quickly and more effectively to calls for help from our residents, whether due to a theft, a mental health emergency, or a shooting.

Combat Crime of All Types

Crack down on domestic violence and sexual assault

Chicago has seen a staggering increase in the prevalence of domestic violence-related incidents since the start of the pandemic, including a 56% increase in domestic violence-related non-fatal shootings in 2020 compared with 2019; and a 79% increase in domestic violence-related homicides. Addressing this crisis, which often involves guns, has to be one of our city’s top priorities.

  • Send social workers trained specifically in domestic violence along with police in responding to calls for police intervention to better address the needs of survivors
  • Strengthen coordination between CPD, CDPH, and domestic violence organizations to improve services for survivors
  • Improve sexual assault kit (SAK) testing, with grants such as one received by CPD in 2020 from the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance
  • Implement a notification system to alert victims of domestic violence when civil protective orders are served, in order to protect women during a time that is particularly dangerous for them, according to research on restraining orders and homicides

Get serious about surge in hate crimes

Hate crimes – against Jewish people, Black people, LGBTQ+ people, and others – are surging in Chicago, and they are only expected to grow worse ahead of a divisive 2024 presidential election. Through mid-October 2022, Chicago’s Commission on Human Relations found a 71% increase in reported hate crimes over the previous year. The U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation of CPD, from 2017, found that the department had just two investigators in its Civil Rights Unit; NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force, meanwhile, had 26 officers, including 20 detectives.

  • Bolster CPD’s Civil Rights Unit so that the department can adequately respond to, investigate, and prosecute hate crimes and potential hate crimes

Ensure that no members of CPD have ties to hate groups or extremist groups that could undermine an officer’s ability, and the department’s ability, to combat hate crimes citywide

Take on scams against seniors, “porch pirates,” and organized retail theft

Studies have shown that Americans lose tens of billions of dollars annually to online and telemarketing scams—and that older Americans “constitute the vast majority of fraud victims.” Meanwhile, package theft by “porch pirates” continues unabated as more and more Chicagoans do their shopping online; and organized retail theft remains an intractable issue and impediment for retail businesses in the city. While less dire than the epidemic of gun violence on our streets, these crimes have real consequences – and real victims. 

  • Coordinate CPD and Illinois AG efforts to better go after online scammers and telemarketers who prey on Illinois residents, particularly seniors
  • Bolster CPD’s efforts to combat “porch pirates” and residential theft of retail packages, including with better tracking and more thorough investigations
  • Work with county, state, and federal lawmakers to find solution to organized retail theft; and increase arrest rates in Chicago, where just 18% of cases in 2020 resulted in arrest

Respond to Crime More Quickly and Effectively

Improve how we respond to 911 calls

The city’s 911 call centers continue to face significant staffing shortages; as of late 2022, some 79 of the centers 621 jobs, or around 13%, remained vacant. We cannot efficiently respond to calls for service as long as this issue persists, so filling these positions must be a top priority. At the same time, we also need to improve the ways in which we respond to 911 calls—especially those involving mental health and substance abuse issues, as well as domestic violence calls.

  • Aggressively work to fill all vacant 911 call center positions and enhance training for all call center staff
  • Dramatically expand on the city’s new Crisis Assistance Response and Engagement (CARE) pilot program and assess ways to minimize the necessity for police involvement in mental health crises in order to improve outcomes and free up police resources for violent crime
  • Send social workers trained specifically in domestic violence along with police in responding to calls for police intervention to better address the needs of survivors
  • Find ways to expand on pre-arrest diversion for those suffering from mental health and substance abuse issues

Distribute officers more effectively

The experience of having a dearth of police cars and on-the-ground officers in our neighborhoods, despite rampant crime near outside our homes and our school, in our parks and our small businesses, and throughout our communities, is all too common. While we must continue citywide efforts to target organized crime and gang violence, we cannot let it be at the expense of having cops on the ground and on the beat. We also have to ensure that our officers are deployed as effectively, and equitably, as possible throughout the city. 

  • Evaluate efficacy of all CPD task forces and specialized units and consider shifting more
  • officers back to neighborhoods and police beats
  • Ensure effective rollout of the Neighborhood Policing Initiative (NPI) and pursue additional federal and city funding to expand the initiative and tracking its efficacy
  • Deploy officers more equitably throughout the city, as promised under the 2021 settlement reached with the ACLU of Illinois

Strengthen Our Police Department

The Chicago Police Department needs help, and a few extra dollars isn’t going to cut it. With a mass exodus of officers, plummeting arrest and traffic stop rates, dissatisfaction and, too often, distrust from residents, and flagging morale among officers at all levels, we’ve got a long way to go to set out city on the right track. Public safety remains, far and away, the number one issue facing our city, according to most residents. And it will remain the number one issue facing our city for as long as we neglect to adequately support, and make improvements to, our police department. 

Boost Police Morale – and Officer Ranks

Hire and retain more officers

Studies have shown that hiring more police officers and increasing police (not prison) funding reduces crime; and that additional spending generates even more in social benefits, largely through a reduction in homicides. As of August 2022, Chicago was facing more than 1,400 sworn vacancies, including nearly a thousand patrol officers and over 100 detectives, due in large part to above-average retirements over the previous year.

We need to find a solution to the mass exodus of police officers now, because every day that goes by with widespread vacancies is another day we are failing to keep our communities safe. The recently approved budget, which included just a $64 million increase for CPD and no increase in rank-and-file officers, simply is not enough to get the job done.

  • Fill all CPD vacancies more quickly, with a significant increase in funding for CPD and by prioritizing filling the ranks of sworn officers as efficiently as possible above other priorities.
  • Offer hiring incentives and more generous benefits, including signing bonuses or incentives such as mortgage loan assistance or help with down payments, as has been proposed in Chicago City Council; and expanding survivors’ benefits for those whose spouses die by suicide, as has also been proposed.
  • Encourage transfers to CPD from other police departments within and outside of Illinois by modifying the training program for potential hires, as has also been proposed in Chicago City Council.

Support officers at work and at home

Fewer arrests, fewer traffic stops, fewer investigative stops, and fewer tickets – we have seen “a drop in nearly every category of police officers’ activity” over the last few years, and the change is not attributable simply to falling numbers of officers. Reasons are complicated—and in some cases a reflection of a welcome reduction in over-policing of certain types of behavior — but one thing is clear: A police force that is overworked and feels under-appreciated is less effective in maintaining public safety and holding bad actors accountable.

  • Provide holistic support for officers, including enhanced mental and physical health services
  • Reduce practice of cancelled days off, which demoralizes officer morale, leads to burn out, and increases overtime costs for the city at the same time

Improve Community-Police Relations

Make CPD more accessible

Common sense would tell us that a more accessible, relatable, and friendly police department would be beneficial to community-police relations and trust in general between officers and the citizens they are sworn to protect. Research supports those conclusions as well; one experiment from New York City, for example, found that even something as simple as providing basic “get to know you” information about neighborhood police officers can improve residents’ perceptions – and may have even helped to reduce crime by reducing a sense of anonymity in the community.

  • Improve processes for community feedback and input, including by launching a citywide and district-by-district survey of residents and by making it easier to submit actionable feedback in person, online, and by phone
  • Make police stations more user-friendly for all by prioritizing customer service and engaging in a full-scale review of services offered, efficacy, and resident satisfaction

Build community trust in CPD

Surveys have found that Chicagoans continue to feel that there are racial biases in CPD’s policing practices, and that reforms are needed in order to build trust between our public safety officers and the communities they police. And research has shown that positive interactions between police officers and the public can substantially improve attitudes toward police officers, “including legitimacy and willingness to cooperate,” making improved trust even more essential.

  • Efficiently implement all consent decree measures so that we can finally move the city out of federal oversight and gain the trust of Chicagoans, who have waited far too long for many of the measures to be put in place
  • Quickly get the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability up and running, with all positions filled at a minimum with interim appointments and, as soon as possible, with long-term hires
  • Reform training practices to reduce misconduct among rank-and-file officers and those in leadership; a 2021 study of the Chicago Police Department using decades of data found that “applicants exposed to higher levels of misconduct during their initial training not only engage in more misconduct over their careers (first generation effect), but also increase the misconduct of their subordinates after they become managers”

Address the Root Causes of Crime

The most effective, and efficient, way to fight crime is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Various studies have shown that more spending on social services, better access to health care, improved mental health treatment, and the prevalence of community programs in general all can have strong negative effects on crime rates, including on homicides. At the same time, these types of investments directly improve the lives of individuals and families by lessening financial strains, improving health outcomes, and creating more educational and employment opportunities, particularly for at-risk young people.

When we talk about combating gun violence, fighting crime, and strengthening our police department, we should be talking about how to prevent crime in the first place – through violence intervention, provision of services such as mental health care and substance abuse treatment, and funding for a range of community programs. 

Prevent Crime Before it Starts

Intervene before violence takes place

We can do far more as a city to prioritize violence intervention as an effective, reform-minded strategy for reducing crime and violence in our neighborhoods. In 2022, Chicago spent less in public funds on violence prevention programs than it did on overtime costs within CPD, which shows yet another consequence of having an understaffed police department. And city hall spent just $5 million out of a total of $85 million in public funding that was slated for violence prevention measures under the city’s 2022 budget, showing a serious lack of urgency from the current administration in addressing these challenges. 

  • Expand on violence intervention programs such as Chicago CRED and ALSO by providing more support from city hall and significantly more funding, so that these essential organizations can reach a higher percentage of the high-risk individuals citywide and make a greater impact

Provide mental health, substance abuse, and housing services

More than three-quarters of Chicagoans view public safety as a public health crisis in this city—and around two thirds view mental health, substance abuse, and housing insecurity as public health issues as well. These problems are deeply intertwined; we simply cannot successfully tackle public safety without also tackling these broader societal issues that contribute so significantly toward it.  

  • Continue to fund, and expand on, diversion programs such as the Narcotics Arrest Diversion Program (NADP), which places individuals with substance use disorders in the public health system instead of the criminal justice system to the extent possible
  • Seek additional grants and federal funding for crisis intervention, opioid abuse, and other CPD and CDPH programs that target individuals with mental health and substance abuse issues, which can often contribute to crime
  • Provide more funding for respite programs for homeless and low-income individuals facing severe medical and substance use disorder issues

Invest in the Community

Fund a range of community programs

Most Chicago residents believe that the city would be safer if we directed more funding toward non-policing public safety programs. While we certainly should not move funding away from an already-depleted CPD, it is absolutely correct that we need to provide more funding for programs that can improve public safety in other ways. One national study from 2017 analyzed 20 years of data across 264 cities and found that an increase in local nonprofit organizations in a city led to a substantial reduction in both the violent crime and property crime rates in the area. 

  • Provide funding for nonprofits of all kinds that work in neighborhoods most affected by crime and with individuals who are most at-risk, including on issues such as food and housing security, health care, and education
  • Fund early education and child care programs for low-income families throughout the city
  • Fund employment programs for high-risk individuals, such as the Rapid Employment and Development Initiative (READI), to provide real financial incentives to avoid street crime and pursue careers
  • Create a Youth Jobs Corps citywide to provide short- and medium-term jobs for youth and young adults in areas such as climate programs